GRAIN growers are increasingly recognising the benefits of seed treatments as valuable protection for their crops and with the rise in pest resistance to some chemistry, it is again expected to be a strongly adopted practice heading into the 2017 season.
"There has been a swing into seed treatments, with unprecedented demand last year,'' said Bayer WA customer advisory representative Rick Horbury.
"It got close to being the biggest year ever for seed treatments and it will be bigger this year," he said.
Mr Horbury said growers were recognising that seed treatments were like the "one per centers''.
"Growers are looking to unlock their cropping potential and they realise seed treatments are the last missing pieces to help maximise yield potentials and, in turn, returns in their farming systems.'
"They are seeing the return on investment from a relatively low cost - it is paying at the end.''
Mr Horbury said with the increased reliance on canola to better support bottom lines, it was important growers protected their cropping investment.
"With historically low wheat prices, canola has become the cornerstone of growers' plans for a profitable operation in 2017,'' he said.
"Crops need to be protected to maintain yield potential and seed treatments are a relatively cheap way to do that.''
Mr Horbury said documented resistance to insecticides was increasing, with green peach aphid becoming a major issue in recent seasons due to its resistance to synthetic pyrethroid (SP), organophosphate (OP) and carbamate chemistry.
He said imidacloprid seed treatment products such as Gaucho offered more effective protection against green peach aphid, other aphids, RLEM and blue oat mites in canola, and could be used in cereals and lupins.
The newly registered Poncho Plus provided a wider pest control spectrum, protecting against cutworm, wireworm and lucerne flea, in addition to mites and aphids.
In pastures, it provides protection from African black beetle and yellowheaded cockchafer.
In cereals, Hombre Ultra seed treatment, which contains imidacloprid plus tebuconazole, delivers the same insect control as Gaucho, but comes with the added control of smuts and bunts.
For canola that could be under high blackleg pressure, Mr Horbury recommended growers applied fluquinconazole seed treatment products such as Jockey Stayer.
"It should be the first part of the disease management program for blackleg in canola, especially for varieties with single group blackleg resistance (for example, Bonito with Group A genetic resistance only) or a lower tolerance to blackleg,'' he said.
"At 35 cents per hectare for a 2 kilograms per hectare sowing rate of canola, it's cheap protection for growers, so it's well worth it.
"Protection could be further enhanced by using the new foliar fungicide, Aviator Xpro, in-crop at around the six leaf timing to extend blackleg control.''
Aviator Xpro offers a new mode of action for resistance management, containing bixafen, a new member of the Group 7 (SDHI) fungicides and the proven performance of prothioconazole.
Mr Horbury said stubble retention was driving stubble-borne diseases and thereby heightening disease pressure in crops, which was also further enhanced in susceptible varieties such as Mace, Sceptre and Calingiri.
"There has been a breakdown of single gene resistance to powdery mildew and leaf rust in Bass barley, which has reinforced the importance of fluquinconazole (or Jockey Stayer) in barley, where it has been performing well for early disease control, but it's use has been dropping off,'' Mr Horbury said.
Jockey Stayer also provides early control of scald in barley and take-all and stripe rust in wheat.
Mr Horbury said growers were also noticing crown rot and rhizoctonia root rot more, which had been caused by extended no-till practices, and EverGol Prime seed treatment was providing good control of the latter, as well as being the strongest tool available for loose smut control in barley.